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High-speed rail line that will connect Las Vegas and southern California breaks ground

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks to the media during the Brightline West ground breaking ceremony in Las Vegas on Monday. Brightline is a private company that will operate the line, which will have trains traveling up to 200 miles per hour and will be the first high-speed rail system in the United States.
Yvette Fernandez
/
KNPR
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks to the media during the Brightline West ground breaking ceremony in Las Vegas on Monday. Brightline is a private company that will operate the line, which will have trains traveling up to 200 miles per hour and will be the first high-speed rail system in the United States.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the nation's first high speed, all electric railway took place in Las Vegas on Monday. The Brightline West line will connect Las Vegas with the Los Angeles metro area.

Trains on the Brightline West rail line will hit nearly 200 miles an hour, cutting the trip between Las Vegas and San Bernardino to about two hours, nearly half the time it takes to drive.

Other proposed rail projects in our region include the Front Range line in Colorado and Wyoming. More options, like expanding Amtrak service into Nevada, Utah and Idaho, are in the planning stages.

At the ground-breaking event, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the United States is in the midst of a transportation revolution.

“We see a lot of places in the U.S. where there's either an uncomfortably long car ride or a ridiculously short flight between those two cities," he said while standing at the future home of the Brightline West Las Vegas station just south of the Las Vegas Strip. "Those are excellent candidates for high speed rail and this is a great example.”

Brightline West founder Wes Edens says the railway will be built in the median of Interstate 15.

“And because of that, you can put a fence over the top of it," Edens said. "It'll be electrified with renewable power so it'll truly be the greenest, fastest train in the country,”

The rail system will span about 218 miles and include three stops in southern California — Victor Valley, Hesperia, and Rancho Cucamonga — and a stop in Las Vegas.

The proposed route for the Brightline West high-speed train. It includes stops in Rancho Cucamonga, Victor Valley, Hesperia, and Las Vegas.
Courtesy Brightline West
The proposed route for the Brightline West high-speed train. It includes stops in Rancho Cucamonga, Victor Valley, Hesperia, and Las Vegas.

Brightline West's estimated budget of $12 billion is currently funded by a combination of private and public funding. It received $3 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and an additional $3.5 billion in private activity bonds from USDOT.

The rail line is expected to open by 2028, in time for the Olympics in Los Angeles.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio (KNPR) in Las Vegas, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2024 Nevada Public Radio. To see more, visit Nevada Public Radio.

Yvette Fernandez